Almerimar & Voyage to Cartegena

Thu 15 Aug 2013 11:42
The approach to Puerto Almerimar is very shallow says the Pilot book and
they are not wrong. We approach the harbour entrance close enough to the
beach that if spun sugar was the children's delight here one might
contemplate snatching one from the hands of some innocent paddler. As it is
a sailor's concentration and heart rate are such that pink floss is the last
thing on one's mind. Instruments scrutinised, two pairs of mark1 eyeballs
straining to confirm clear passage whilst alarms shrill and shriek their
shallow depth warnings. We find the dredged channel, some respite and time
to appreciate the sentinel to this harbour. A random stone tower, tall
enough to grind corn but without the sails. We dock in its shadow and I take
the short walk to the edifice armed with ships papers and passports. The
formalities are completed with the friendly and jovial Alberto, the price
half that which we paid at Marina Del Este. We leave the visitors dock
making our way through this extensive marina to our allotted berth where we
moor stern to. A couple of hours later after completing the usual tasks we
survey our surroundings. This fine and modern marina complex lies within a
huge sprawl of shops, offices, apartments and houses randomly rising in
places up to five stories high. Our berth is close to an area of
delightfully vaulted walk ways in the manner of Place de Vosges but so much
newer and bigger. Further afield turrets and domes, stone balustrades and
ranks of oriel windows plead for pre-eminence in the viewer's eye. Angles
and organic curves midst Norfolk pines and Canary palms. The overall effect
pleasing in a sort of Gaudi meets Spanish Colonial run through with Moorish
influence like veins in a blue cheese. We decide on two nights to allow us
time to explore.
The following day we discover that this imaginative and sprawling port
complex was the brainchild of ......, I have forgotten his name already and
no amount of Google searching will reveal it. Surely not what he was
thinking as he poured heart and soul into this memorial (for he died in
2010), this testament to his life, this piece of immortality, this statement
of his ability and imagination. This over developed, under utilised dream,
that could never sustain itself, that will never provide income and capital
growth for those who risk their funds here for hundreds of the houses and
apartments lie empty. Many, many shops and commercial spaces have never been
let. Dozens and dozens of frontages have been bricked up with pierced block
in an attempt to improve the view. The originators dream unfettered by
commercial reality; easy money allowing one man's 'pyramid' to be built,
only for him to be forgotten two years after his death. His legacy to create
more misery for those desperate to better themselves and still seduced by
the concept. For as well as those properties never let or sold there are
those that have been inhabited, locked into leases and now closed but still
with rent to pay. My thoughts are with them and for me a veil of sadness
cloaks this whole place as I think of the personal stress and loss, for I
have been there.
Amazing though in this cold hearth there are glowing embers and at one of
them we dined on Friday eve. In the Spanish manner we dined late, taking our
al fresco seats as the hour neared ten at La Salea a small eatery of some
dozen and a half tables or so, and even then we were early for the Spanish
regulars arrived some thirty to sixty minutes after us. The heat of the day
done, light reflecting off gently rippling water. Our neighbouring table was
a dutiful daughter treating an aging mother to wine and tapas. The waiters
friendly, the aged Rioja as soft as the night and the warm, fresh baked
bread rolls that were set before us. We chose 'small' plates, the first to
arrive croquettes of octopus and prawn delicious in their crisp, fresh, sea
tasting simplicity. Sashimi of Tuna followed, how can raw fish be so
delicious? Later, duck Magret with a compote of reduced strawberries, then
fine slivers of sirloin of beef served with a very dark chocolate sauce,
what a culinary delight. Dessert to which we were easily seduced comprised
of a freshly baked ball of light sponge, still warm and crisp on the outside
filled with rich dark chocolate. The whole confection adrift on a semi
fredo, vanilla sauce and accompanied by a little homemade ice cream. We
oohed and aahed our way through this luscious pudding whilst a duo of
incredibly talented jazz guitarist and singer pleased our aural senses and
all of this for less than the cost of a Friday evening in the pub at home!
Charts and Pilot books having been studied it was clear that there were no
ports for a boat of our size between Almerimar and Cartegena from where Lynn
could take a taxi to Murcia airport for her flight home.
We left Almerimar late morning on Saturday having set the boat up for an
overnight voyage. Jack lines fixed, the rule aboard is that no matter the
weather, at night life jackets and harnesses are worn. We dined simply and
as night fell and a small crescent of a moon appeared, we sailed on. Lynn
not yet comfortable to take a watch I settled in for a long night for we
would not see light again till sunrise around 7.00. It is a strange feeling
and even more so at night offshore, that in this crowded world we two had
our own space, invaded by not another sole. To sail silently trusting ones
senses in the knowledge that weather forecasts are forecasts not
certainties, to watch and interpret the sea and the sky. To reef and trim
and ease sails. To be master of your ship, to master your own fears and
concerns, to do your duty to bring this boat and its crew safely to harbour.
To watch for dawn and land fall. To do all this with a crew of two is still
special to us even though we have the benefits of electronic gadgetry to
help us navigate and warn of dangers. In darkness we crossed the Gulf of
Vera and the Gulf of Mezzeron. The sun rose slowly and majestically through
banks of dark cloud, its first light a pink loom in the eastern sky, then
tongues of flame just above the horizon before it committed itself to
lighting the whole of the eastern sky with streaks of red between banks of
tungsten cloud, its warmth rolling back a two hundred metre high wall of sea
mist as we closed on the ancient port of Cartegena set amongst pincered,
barren stone mountains to the water's edge. We moved nothing else did. We
followed a course sailed by Phoenicians and Romans and Byzantines. We
silently passed docked ships of the Spanish Navy, presumably the ones that
were not harrying our sea space off Gibraltar and moored side on in this
ancient city.
Lynn took her flight home leaving me and Pamarzi in this historic city that
we would never have visited but for our adoption of this nautical
wanderlust. There will be matters to talk of here and doubtless I will bend
your ear over the coming days.

Roger & Lynn
The crew of Pamarzi